A Quick Look At Virtua Cop 2

There are lots of Saturn franchises that could and probably should have been re-made for the Dreamcast. Imagine if stuff like NiGHTS, Sega Touring Car or Fighters Megamix had been given a bit of a revamp in the graphics department and then re-released as budget games for the Dreamcast - it would have been great and allowed for more gamers to experience these titles. Obviously, in the case of Touring Car it would have taken a bit more than increasing the resolution to sort out the eye-watering jerkiness of the engine, but you get the idea. Remakes of last-gen titles are all the rage today, and there's no real reason that the Dreamcast couldn't have played host to a plethora of upgraded Saturn ports. This did happen at least once though, as Virtua Cop 2 can attest.
Released only in Japan, Virtua Cop 2 is actually a port of the PC version and as such it looks slightly better than the Saturn game, but nowhere near as good as the original arcade cab. I had heard that it was incompatible with the PAL Dreamcast light gun so held off from buying it previously, but I saw it advertised for the bargainous price of £4 in a Facebook group so decided to take the plunge. When the game arrived I first tried to play it on the VGA CRT monitor I recently acquired, and true to form the gun just would not play ball. On the calibration screen the shots would only register about 30% of the time, and when they did they were way off target. I assumed the rumours of incompatibility were indeed true so just set about playing with the joypad.

I did own the Saturn port a while ago and didn't own a light gun back then and so had always previously played with the Saturn controller. The lack of analogue made controlling the on-screen targeting reticule a bit of a nightmare and I remember it being not much fun. This is not the case when using the Dreamcast controller - the anologue control makes popping caps in bad guys super easy - almost to the point that there is very little challenge indeed. On the first try I finished the three missions available (easy, normal and expert) with the minimum of fuss and went back to Grandia 2 in about the same time as it takes to prepare and devour a Pot Noodle. The game is very threadbare when it comes to extras - all you get is the basic arcade mode and an options menu; there are no extra modes such as training or target practice like you get in The House of the Dead 2 for example.
If you aren't familiar with the franchise, you play a cop (surprise!) who is tasked with taking out a seemingly endless supply of bad guys dressed in black suits or army fatigues, and who are intent on taking hostages and standing right in front of you waiting to get shot. The game employs a useful system whereby any threats are highlighted by a large green circle which gets rapidly smaller (and redder) as their level of threat increases. Once the circle is at it's reddest and smallest, the perp will shoot you - make sure you shoot them first or you can kiss goodbye to one of your lives. It's a really simple formula and one that has been used in a hundred other previous and subsequent games of this ilk, but the Virtua Cop series really stands out as a high point in the genre.

On the subject of the light gun not working with the VGA monitor, I decided to hook the Dreamcast up to my CRT TV instead just to see if it worked (I wasn't expecting it to)...and it worked perfectly. So at least I managed to dispel the myth surrounding the game being incompatible with anything but Japanese peripherals. I played for 10 minutes or so and then decided to go back to Grandia 2 again.
If you're curious about Virtua Cop 2 on Dreamcast and can get it cheap, then by all means give it a go. If you've exhausted The House of the Dead 2 and Confidential Mission this will give your old light gun and trigger finger a healthy workout. It's just a shame that Sega didn't think it worthy of a proper update on the Dreamcast - more missions, better visuals, extra gameplay modes...hell, even Virtua Cop 3 would have been nice! On this note, HOTD3 was rumoured to be coming to the Dreamcast before the plug was pulled, but I guess we'll never know how that could have turned out.


Anonymous said...

Say Tom, can you or one of your lads review Hundred Swords? It is a strategy game similar to the original StarCraft and Warcraft games but with 3D graphics and for the Dreamcast. Hundred Swords was released on the Dreamcast in Japan and it is rumored that it was supposed to have been released in the West until the "big news" in 2001 killed its chance at a life on the DC in the West. However, whatever work was completed on it was re-purposed for the released-shortly-later PC version which was released for Windows in the West around 2004. Copies have been seen in the US, UK, and EU. I think it would be perfect material for an article at the 'Yard!

Unknown said...

I think Daytona USA 2001 and virtual cop 2 are the only ports of Saturn games to the Dreamcast I am aware of . I wish there were many more I can imagine Sega could have made a really good Saturn to Dreamcast port of sonic r with characters from sonic adventure 1 and 2 as well as new levels and improved graphics.

Sega already missed a opportunity to make the Dreamcast backwards compatible they should have remade many Saturn games for their final system and maybe made a 3D eternal champions game.

CD ageS said...

Nope. There other games on Saturn library that saw release DC also.

Kazu No Regret
Puzzle Fighter

And others I believe.

DCGX said...

Great review, but just an FYI: Virtua Cop 2 did get released outside of Japan as part of the Sega Smash Pack Vol. 1 here in the States. It's actually the only reason I have SSPV.1 (well for this and Wrestle War).

Tom Charnock said...

DCGX - Thanks, I thought as much but I didn't even think to check. D'oh!

CD ageS - Cool - will look into those :)

Long string of numbers - I've looked at Hundred Swords but I don't think it's something I'd be able to play myself. Rob is learning Japanese though, maybe he could take a look...

Ronaldo - thanks for reading and commenting, backwards compatibility would have been awesome

Anonymous said...

Tom, Hundred Swords is available in English on PC.


Tom Charnock said...

Ah right, sorry - think I misunderstood! It does look like an interesting game, I watched a few videos on YouTube. I use a MacBook primarily but I'll see if I can pick it up cheap and check it out on a borrowed PC laptop at some point. As ever, thanks for your input. :)